Now that the school year is officially underway, there’s increased traffic on the roads during rush hour commutes. Buses are stopping to pick up students, parents are driving their little ones to school before they head off to work, and new drivers are driving to high school. You may see lines of cars stretching out to the road leading from school drop off points, and yellow lights flashing, signaling that you’re driving through a school zone.
With increased traffic comes the increased risk of accidents. Here at LJW Legal, not only are we expert car accident attorneys , but our main goal is to help everyone remain safe on the busy roads here in South Florida.
Things to Consider When Driving during the New School Year
During the summer months, there are less drivers on the road throughout the morning rush hour commute, on lunch breaks, and in the late afternoons and evenings. Now that school is back in session there may be interruptions to your normal commute. There are several things you should keep in mind and be on the lookout for this time of year, and always.
Young Pedestrians and Bicyclists
There are lots of youngsters who walk or bike to school, to the bus stop, and to after-school activities or friends’ houses. They may not be wearing bright colors that are easy to see, and they may not always adhere to the “pedestrian rules of the road.” Remember that kids sometimes forget to look both ways before crossing, or that they may try to dart across the road when they think they have time. They may chase a run-away basketball into the street. Be on the lookout for kids while driving, slow down, and if it’s safe, stop and allow them to pass.
Drop-off Lines May Cause Backups
We all know the feeling of frustration when we’re driving to work and the lane we’re in suddenly comes to a complete stop for seemingly no reason at all. Keep in mind that rush hour is at the same time as most school drop-offs, and there are lots of parents waiting in line to bring their kids to the door. Sometimes these lines stretch out to the street, causing delays and backups. Keep your cool and if you know a school entrance is coming up, move to the left to avoid getting stuck in line and to allow the parents who need to be there a chance to get in.
Drop-off Lines Can Cause Confusion
With so many drivers in one place, each with small children and places to go, school drop-off lines can be a confusing place. Double parking, horn honking, and kids coming from all directions can frazzle anyone. Exercise extra caution in the drop-off line, remaining cognizant that children may drop things and stop suddenly in the middle of the parking lot, or that they may be running to the school entrance without paying attention.
High School Students Are New Drivers
At the beginning of each school year a fresh round of new drivers enters the morning commute. There are many high school students who are new to the drive commuting to school for the first time. They may be nervous, or not quite used to the route they’re taking. Remember that the person driving slowly in front of you may be a high school student who’s still getting used to driving themselves to school.
How to Stay Accident-Free
With so much happening on the roads this time of year, we want to help ensure that you stay accident-free. Our goal is to help you, your family, and all the others on the road and sidewalks stay safe. Follow these back-to-school rules of the road to minimize the possibility of accidents.
This rule is the oldest in the book for good reason. Slow down when children are present or when driving through a school zone due to the increased activity through those areas. Slowing down gives you more time to stop in the event that an object or person comes out in front of your vehicle unexpectedly, and also provides you with more of an opportunity to observe your surroundings for potential dangers.
The typical speed limit through a school zone is 20 mph, which is usually signified via signs with flashing yellow lights. Remember that fines for speeding in a school zone are doubled in the state of Florida.
Come to a Complete Stop When Instructed
When we’re running late or in a rush to get to work it can be tempting to only pause at a stop sign, but this poses danger for both drivers and pedestrians. It’s also important to note that school buses will deploy their own stop signs when they are at a stop picking up or dropping off students. These stop signs are just as important to heed as those on corners. When a bus is stopped with its stop sign out, drivers should stop 50 feet behind the vehicle; do not attempt to pass, as children are present.
When coming to a complete stop at a stop sign, look in both directions as well as ahead and in your rearview mirror for any children or drivers that may appear. This complete stop gives you time to fully evaluate your environment, minimizing the chance of accident or injury.
Eliminate Distractions While Driving
Do you usually eat breakfast in the car on the way to work, or do you put on your makeup at stoplights? Even that morning coffee can pose a danger if it spills, causing you to take your eyes off the road. Now is a great time to re-evaluate those activities to create safer driving conditions. Don’t text and drive and try to minimize the number of phone calls you take on your Bluetooth. The road and others on it deserve your full attention, for you safety as well as theirs.
Reversing responsibly is especially important if you’re backing out of your driveway or in a school parking lot. Lots of us rely on our backup cameras, but when driving this school year take the time to turn around and scope out your surroundings before going in reverse. Additionally, if you’re getting into your parked vehicle, take the time to walk around the back first to make sure that there are no items or small children that you won’t be able to see once you’re in your car. Ensuring there’s a clear path before you reverse is essential to maintain safety and avoiding accidents.
Heed the Directions of Crossing Guards and Police Officers
With the new school year in full swing, you will see crossing guards and police officers helping to direct traffic. Be vigilant of their presence and always heed their direction. Even if you may not see a pedestrian or biker approaching, a crossing guard or police officer is able to see things from a distance that are out of your line of view, signaling when it’s necessary for you to stop.
Additionally, it’s common for police officers to direct traffic at school entrances during the busiest times of day, and following their instruction is the best way to stay safe. If a crossing guard or attendant is present at the drop-off line, always follow their direction when coming and going.
Talk to Your Teen
If you have a new teen driver, you’re probably already nervous about them driving to school for the first time. This is a great opportunity to talk with your teen about safe driving habits. Using turn signals, following the speed limit, heeding stop and yield signs, and of course, not texting and driving.
Educate your teen on the dangers of distracted driving and make them aware of potentially dangerous situations they may encounter. Provide them with tips to stay safe and remind them that if they’re feeling too nervous or overwhelmed that it’s okay to find a safe place to pull over and take a breather. Let them know that if they’re ever feeling too uncomfortable to drive that they should call you or another trusted adult for help.
What to Do If You Do Get into an Accident
While you can take every precaution possible to avoid a car accident, you may still find yourself in a situation where you’re left wondering “How did I get here?” Most people will get into a fender bender at some point in their lives.
Hopefully, it’s nothing more serious than that, but in the event that it is, make sure you contact Long, Jean & Wechsler, P.A. in Pompano Beach right away. We specialize in helping those who have experienced injury as a result of car accidents, and we’ll be there for you every step of the way. We’ve built our law firm on the principles of compassion and communication, with a dedication to helping each of our clients get the compensation that they deserve while navigating the legal system in South Florida.